Countertop Build and Install
When it came to selecting the coutertop material, I was looking for something that was light weight and cheap. My wife wanted granite (heavy and expensive). We finally decided on a solid surface material (Corian). It is slightly lighter than granite and a little cheaper. It was also easy to work with and shape with woodworking tools.
We found a piece of Corian that someone was tearing out of their laundry room and bought it for $70. It was in good shape with only a few scratches that I could remove with sanding.
In the van I made a template of the top of the cabinets where the countertop would go. I used long thin strips of wood to outline the shape of the countertop. Like everything in the van, the back edge of the countertop had to be shaped to match the curvature of the van. I used hot glue to hold the template together.
Using the template I traced the outline onto the slab of Corian. It was pretty easy to cut using a jigsaw with a wood cutting blade. You just have to go slow.
The Corian is only 12mm thick. To give the illusion of a thicker piece, without the weight or cost, I glued a 2inch wide strip to the underside of the slab. This makes it 1 inch thick, which I think good for this size of countertop. I cut the strip on the tablesaw.
Normally, the countertop installers use an epoxy kit from the manufacturer with color matched epoxy. The kit includes the 2 part adhesive and a mixing gun. It would have cost much more than our slab of Corian and probably 10X adhesive than I need. It is also difficult to obtain and I believe they only sell it to countertop installers.
I used clear 5-minute epoxy from Home Depot. It is the same type of adhesive, but not color matched. I did a few tests and found that if you have a nice tight joint between the two pieces, the joint will be invisible after sanding. I used the drum sander to ensure the pieces fit together tight.
Before gluing the edging to the slab, I hot glued small pieces of wood to the bottom side of the slab. This provides a stop to keep the edge pieces from moving. They are triangular so only a corner is touching the edge piece. This minimizes the wood pieces from being glued to the slab by the epoxy squeeze-out. The epoxy is mixed and I used a putty knife to apply it. I put spring clamps every 3-4 inches to hold the edge pieces in place while the epoxy dried.
After letting it dry for a couple of hours, I remove the clamps and wood pieces. To flush up and straighten the edge I used the router with a flush trim bit. A wood straight edge was used a the guide. I also rounded the corners with a radius template. A 1/8 radius roundover bit was used to ease the sharp edges of the countertop.
The countertop was finished by sanding the edge and top with progressively higher grits of sandpaper. I used a random-orbiting sander and started with 120 grit. This is used to feather out any deep scratches and smooth out the cut edges of the slab. I then progressed up to 400 grit. This gave more of a satin finish, which is what I like. You could keep sanding up to 1000 grit and then use polishing compound to get a gloss finish, but we chose to stop at 400 grit.
I cut the hole for the sink and attached some 1/2 plywood to the bottom to provide support where the slab rests on the cabinets. The plywood was attached with silicon caulk. The wood also gives a spot to screw into when attaching the top to the cabinets.
I attached the countertop to the cabinets and attached small strips of Corian as a backsplash. This will keep water or other items from rolling off the back of the countertop. The sink was installed and the countertop was done.